GOP leaders agree to consider Dec. 30 spending bill

GOP leaders agree to consider Dec. 30 spending bill
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House Republican leaders have agreed to consider extending government funding until Dec. 30, rather than having it expire just days before Christmas, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus said Monday.

Leadership's initial plan to avoid a shutdown was to pass a two-week spending bill on Wednesday that would keep the government funded up to Dec. 22. Current funding for fiscal 2018 runs out Friday.

But House Freedom Caucus members protested the plan and held up a Monday night vote to go to conference with the Senate on tax legislation until they received assurances from leadership that they would consider an alternative strategy. 

“I’m not saying there’s any commitment to do anything. I’m just saying there’s a commitment to talk further,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOn The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters after the vote. “And I feel very good about the dialogue that I had with the Speaker.”

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While the conservative bloc had originally pressed for a spending bill that stretches into January, the Dec. 30 date appears to be a compromise that could be more palatable to more moderate Republican members.

But it's still unclear whether both chambers would be willing to go along with the idea. 

The issue will be posed to members during Tuesday morning's GOP conference meeting ahead of a House Rules Committee vote on the two-week spending measure. Leadership indicated that there would be enough time to make changes to the stop-gap bill if they wanted to, Meadows said.

“We think there’s a growing consensus that Dec. 30 would work,” Meadows said.

The conference vote on taxes took a dramatic turn Monday night as the tally became unexpectedly tied up. Members of the Freedom Caucus, who were huddled with leadership on the House floor, appeared to be blocking the motion from moving forward.

Meadows could be seen engaged in an intense conversation with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP leaders go into attack mode against Harris Republicans introduce bill to defend universities conducting coronavirus research against hackers Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline MORE (R-Calif.). Meadows, who also spoke with President Trump on the phone a little earlier, worked to extract promises from leadership that they would be more open to negotiating with them over the continuing resolution, or CR.

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump slams 'rogue' Sasse after criticism of executive actions Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey MORE (R-Wis.) also agreed to raise the Dec. 30 CR idea with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell warns control of Senate 'could go either way' in November On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high McConnell: Time to restart coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ky.). 

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, had initially cast a “no” vote on the conference motion. But once Meadows and Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanWorld's most trafficked mammal gives Trump new way to hit China on COVID-19 The 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Tucker Carlson calls Fauci a 'fraud' after tense hearing MORE (R-Ohio) got assurances from leadership, he and others flipped their vote to “yes.”

“There was supposed to be a promise of better negotiations in the way the CR is going to happen,” DesJarlais told reporters after the vote.

In the end, seven Republicans voted against the tax motion, and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashKudlow acknowledges executive orders may end up in court: 'We're going to go ahead with our actions anyways' Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Peter Meijer wins GOP primary in Amash's Michigan district MORE (R-Mich.) was the only Freedom Caucus member to do so. The other Republicans who voted against the motion also voted against the House's tax bill in November.

The Freedom Caucus's holdup on the tax motion to gain leverage on the CR did not go over well with other Republicans.

"Trying to take out going to conference on tax reform, I don't think that's the best route," said Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerJerry Falwell Jr. placed on indefinite leave GOP congressman calls for Falwell's resignation Pence confidant helps 24-year-old beat Trump-backed candidate MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of another conservative group, the Republican Study Committee.

Conservative lawmakers prefer punting spending talks into January because they believe they will have more leverage to get a better deal on a massive, trillion-dollar omnibus package. They worry a deadline so close to Christmas will result in a spending package loaded with extraneous items they won't like.

But Democrats and some moderate Republicans have threatened to oppose any spending legislation that stretches into 2018 if it doesn’t include a fix for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which grants work permits to certain young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

And defense hawks have been opposing a January CR because they want a deal on top-line spending numbers before the end of the year that would provide a funding boost for the Pentagon.

Meadows cited the “push back” as to why his group couldn’t get promises on a January CR. But he said that moving the deadline to before the New Year is still better than before Christmas.

“We’d like to do [a January CR], but apparently there’s some push back,” Meadows said. “There is a whole lot more pressure to get home for Christmas than there is for New Years.”

—Scott Wong and Naomi Jagoda contributed to this report. Last updated at 8:47 p.m.